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How Can Overseas Pakistanis Help in Post-Floods Reconstruction?

Members of Pakistani diaspora must remember their compatriots in distress as we celebrate Eid today.

While there have been high-profile recent efforts by overseas Pakistanis to raise millions of dollars to fund rescue and relief efforts after the recent devastating floods, it is now time to begin to shift focus on to the much longer term and significantly more expensive reconstruction phase that will requires billions, not millions, of dollars.

World Bank economist Sanket Mohapatra has said in a recent post that remittances by overseas Pakistanis have played a significant role in Pakistan's economic improvement. Not only have such remittances contributed to significant poverty reduction in Pakistan "by an impressive 17.3 percentage points between 2001 and 2008 (from 34.5 percent in 2001-02 to 17.2 percent in 2007-08)", but "continued strong growth in worker’s remittances in the past few years has also contributed to improvements in the external current account balance” and “have facilitated improvement in the country’s external position”, according to a World Bank report released on July 30, 2010.

World Bank's Mohaptra adds that "there is now a risk that devastating floods that have hit Pakistan, killing more than 1,200 people and leaving 2 million people homeless, could reverse some of the gains in poverty achieved in the last few years, which were already believed to have been weakened in the wake of the recent financial crisis and rise in food prices. During past natural disasters, migrants have sent additional remittances to help their families and friends in need – for example, during the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, in Philippines after typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009, after an earthquake in Haiti in early 2010, and in other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is likely that the Pakistani diaspora will send additional financial resources to help their family, friends and even larger communities. These person-to-person transfers could complement official aid efforts".

The cost and the task of post-flood reconstruction may appear to be monumental, but I feel confident that global Pakistani community is equal to it. Already, non-resident Pakistanis have been sending home nearly ten billion US dollars a year in remittances to their home country. And their invested assets are estimated to be in hundreds of billions of US dollars in different parts of the world. I believe Pakistani diaspora can double their remittances in the next twelve months, thereby boosting Pakistan's overall economy by a $10 billion stimulus for reconstruction.

If a significant part of this additional $10 billion in remittances goes into special, professionally managed, investment funds specifically for post-floods reconstruction and rehabilitation, it will be an even greater boost to Pakistan's overall economy. To put it in perspective, the $10 billion in a year would be 5 times the annual foreign aid, and twice the peak FDI Pakistan received in 2007, the last year of healthy economic growth in 2007-2008.

Here's a video clip of Pakistan's billionaire real estate developer Malik Riaz Husain pledging $2 billion of his own wealth to help the flood victims rebuild:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistani-Americans Extend Help to Flood Victims

World Bank Report on Pakistan released on July 30, 2010

Pakistan's Economic Performance 2008-2010

Aid, Trade, Investments and Remittances in Pakistan

World Bank Blog on Impact of Remittances in Pakistan

Views: 59

Tags: Diaspora, Floods, Pakistan, Reconstruction, Remittances

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 5, 2013 at 9:40pm

Here's a Daily Times report on seismic monitoring in Pakistan:

KARACHI: The project to install new broadband seismic stations equipped with advance technology that was initiated following the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake to strengthen seismic monitoring system, has completed.
Pakistan Meteorology Department (PMD) has planned to officially inaugurate these stations on May 16, 2013 in Islamabad. The existing ten broadband seismic stations are British technology and the new stations are based on Chinese technology.
Under the project, ten new broadband seismic stations were installed, bringing the total number to 20 in Pakistan. These new seismic stations, installed in Skardu, Charath, Tarbela, Islamabad, Salt Range Punjab, Fort Munro, Dera Ghazi Khan, Lahore and Nangarparkar, have been integrated with the existing seismic network of the PMD. The project aims at better monitoring of earthquakes and precise earthquake hazard assessment.
On October 8, 2005 an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck northern Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, killing around 73,000 people and displacing 3.5million in its wake. Followed by the earthquake, when nations around the world were helping financially and were sending relief goods, China promised to strengthen the seismic monitoring system in Pakistan. Pak-China Seismograph Network was initiated and implemented by China Earthquake Network Centre (CENC) and China Earthquake Administration (CEA) to fulfil the promise.
Additionally, state of the art and advanced Very Broad Band (VBB) sensor has also been installed in PMD’s station located in Margla Hills, Islamabad, thus making Pakistan the only South Asian country in possession of this technology.
“This project is a great achievement and now Pakistan has 20 broadband stations, all connected via satellite,” said PMD Seismology Division Islamabad Director Zahid Rafi.
Most of these new broadband stations are installed either in northern areas or in Punjab, however, the coastline of Sindh and Balochistan was not considered in the project.
Pakistan has witnessed several tsunamigenic earthquakes in the past along the coast of the Arabian Sea in Sindh and Balochistan. Several experts forecast destructive tsunamis on these coastlines in the future due to the presence of Makran Subduction Zone or MSZ as the potential source in the region.
Despite these warnings, the Pakistani government has never considered installing the broadband seismometers on the coastal belt.
The PMD official data reveals that out of the existing ten broadband stations only two were installed on Sindh and Balochistan’s coasts; one in Turbat and another in Karachi. However, experts are of the view that due to the presence of MSZ these areas need more broadband stations.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\04\06\story_6-4-2013_pg12_3

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 16, 2013 at 9:34pm

Here's a Reuters report on a powerful 7.8 earthquake near Iran-Pakistan border:

(Reuters) - A powerful earthquake struck a border area of southeast Iran on Tuesday killing at least 35 people in neighboring Pakistan, destroying hundreds of houses and shaking buildings as far away as India and Gulf Arab states.

Communications with the sparsely-populated desert and mountain region were largely cut off, making it difficult to assess Iranian casualties. But an Iranian provincial governor later said there were no reports of deaths there so far.

"Our staff were in a meeting and we felt the ground shake," Saleh Mangi, Programme Unit Manager for Plan International in the Pakistani town of Thatta, was quoted as saying by the British office of the children's charity.

"It was horrible - we felt the movement in the chairs and even the cupboards were shaking. This is the strongest quake I have felt since the 1980s."

Pakistani officials said at least 30 people were killed and 150 injured in the town of Mashkeel in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which borders Iran.

Mohammed Ashraf, head of a health center in Mashkeel, said several hundred houses in the town had caved in. Three women and two children were also killed when their mud house collapsed in the Baluchistan district of Panjgur.

"The earthquake has killed at least five people in Panjgur," said Ali Imran, an official at the government disaster-response unit in Quetta, Baluchistan's main city.

Pakistan's army said it had deployed troops and helicopters to ferry tents, medicines and medical teams to Mashkeel.

IRAN RELATIVELY UNSCATHED

Iran appeared to have emerged relatively unscathed. National media reported that 27 people were injured and that the significant depth was the likely reason for the relatively low level of damage from a 7.8 magnitude quake.

Soon after the quake, an Iranian official told Reuters he expected hundreds of dead and state media quoted unconfirmed reports of 40 fatalities in Iran.

But Hatam Narouyi, governor of Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan province, said there were "no fatalities", the student news agency (ISNA) reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey, in a revised bulletin, said the quake hit at 1044 GMT at a depth of 82 km (51 miles). The epicenter was 198 km (123 miles) southeast of the city of Zahedan and 250 km northwest of Turbat in Pakistan.

People in the Iranian city of Zahedan poured into the streets when it struck, Fars news agency reported. Officials in Saravan, the nearest city to the epicenter, said there had been no serious damage.

Iranian Red Crescent official Morteza Moradipour said emergency crews, including dog teams to sniff through the debris for any buried survivors, had reached the area.

"Because of the strength of the earthquake we had expected to see significant damage in residential areas but the quake was at a depth of 95 km and therefore the extent of the damage was on par with earthquakes measuring magnitude 4," he said.

The U.N.'s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it was in contact with authorities in Iran and "stands ready to assist upon request", a spokesman said....

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/16/us-iran-quake-idUSBRE93F0...

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